Union Temple Baptist Church was founded by the late Reverend Chester R. Smallwood on July 6, 1967, and was officially recognized by the Baptist Ministers Council of Washington and Vicinity as a Missionary Baptist Church in November 1967.
In 1969 after a period illness, Reverend Smallwood was unable to continue service. Hence, Reverend Simon Beamon served, assisted by Reverend William Roundtree (September 1971- September 1972), and Reverend John Moss (September 1972 - February 1973). In March 1973, Reverend Willie F. Wilson was called by the then active membership of 30, to be the chosen shepherd, and assumed the Pastorate.
In 1990, against incredible odds and opposition, Rev. Wilson led the construction of a $3.5 million church complex in the heart of Anacostia. With its Kente-stained glass windows, the church receives world acclaim for its 30-foot by 19-foot mural depicting the Last Supper. It not only has the image of a black Christ, but also has the twelve disciples depicted as twelve significant Africans and African Americans, among them Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X.
During Reverend Wilson's many years of inspirational leadership, the membership has grown to over 8,000 and God continually adds to the church. Rev Wilson has distinguished UTBC as one that is on the cutting edge of social, economic, and political changes with the church, community, and the world. UTBC ministries and programs include, but are not limited to: The Akoma Project which provides case management to individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, the Aya Program which provides long term welfare recipients with assistance in the transition from welfare to work, the Harambee House which provides residential and counseling services to court adjudicated juveniles, the Manhood and Womanhood Training Programs which assist adolescents in their transition from childhood to adulthood. Drawing upon African heritage and contemporary economics, UTBC integrates African culture into all aspects of the worship service: development of O.U.R.S. which is designed to sale African-American made products to African-American consumers, making good use of the dancing, music making talents and skills peculiar to our "African roots" and the Tribal System to enhance spiritual development, fellowship, communication, implementation of church programs and policies, and to ensure the general welfare of the church and its members. UTBC serves as host to the Leon Wright Seminary for those within the community who choose to expand their knowledge of the Christian church. Until 2009, UTBC co-sponsored the outdoor festival, UNIFEST, which routinely drew 200,000 visitors each year.